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The Short Version: Separk Mansion is one of North Carolina’s most popular wedding venues. The mansion was built in 1919 and remodeled in 2012 and offers dramatic staircases, ballrooms, manicured gardens, and a luxurious bridal suite. Many couples choose the mansion’s all-inclusive wedding package, which takes care of planning for the ceremony and reception. That means less stress for the bride and groom, and more fond memories on their special day.
In 1919, textile magnate Joseph Separk built a beautiful Italian renaissance revival mansion on the outskirts of Charlotte, North Carolina. The house included sweeping staircases, French doors, and a large formal garden.
Joseph’s vision was preserved for the next century, and eventually, the private home became a wedding venue updated with modern amenities and fixtures. But the mansion’s essence was conserved — which is a prerequisite for a listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
Maintaining the mansion is a labor of love.
“We’re 103, and we have original floors, so we’re always working on renovations, painting, and other projects,” said Caylea Flanagan, Event Coordinator at Separk Mansion.
Recently, Separk Mansion held a free wedding for front-line workers. The team solicited submissions and chose a couple who they believed deserved a free ceremony.
“The bride-to-be was an ICU nurse during the COVID-19 pandemic, and her fiancé was a firefighter in Charlotte, and we did their wedding for free,” Caylea said.
That meant a free wedding dress and suit, catering, flowers, a bar, and DJ.
“We couldn’t have done it without all the vendors. We reached out to the favorite people we work with all the time, so it was a huge thing to give to this couple,” Caylea told us.
The happy marriage of both past and present make Separk Mansion one of the most popular wedding venues in the area, and it hosts 80 to 90 weddings each year. The mansion is just a 20-minute drive from Charlotte, and it offers a picturesque setting that’s worth the short trip for couples and their guests.
Separk Mansion can host weddings of up to 250 guests, and most couples opt for its all-inclusive package. The package allows couples to focus on a few key details — including the photographer, DJ, and florist — while the Separk Mansion team takes care of the rest.
The package includes a ceremony in the formal garden or ballroom underneath its dramatic chandeliers. Couples can choose from white wooden folding chairs for the garden ceremony or silver Chiavari chairs for the indoor option.
The package also includes a Bridal Suite and Groom’s Suite for the couple and their bridal party.
After the ceremony, the couple and their guests move to a cocktail hour and reception. A four-hour beer and wine beverage service and a champagne toast for the bride and groom are part of the all-inclusive package.
Couples also can choose their hors d’oeuvres and a buffet-style reception or plated dinner. The food service includes a wedding cake from a local vendor.
The package comes with an event director and wedding coordinator who ensures each aspect of the day runs smoothly. The couple also has two months of planning time with the package.
“The feedback we get from couples is that their time is most important, and the all-inclusive package helps them preserve that time. Being engaged is such a special time, and it gives them more of that time back for engagement parties and those types of events,” Caylea said.
Couples who choose the à la carte option can select individual services rather than the complete package. Caylea said the all-inclusive package is by far the most popular option because it was designed to be both stress-free and affordable.
Separk Mansion has three wedding planners on its team. Most planning meetings focus on how to best serve the couple during their special day.
“We’re going to make sure you’re taken care of, ‘Have you had water?’ ‘How are you feeling?’ We’ll help you bustle your dress or bring you a private meal,” Caylea told us.
Couples have access to their bridal and groom suites for nine hours on the wedding day to prepare for the ceremony and reception.
The Separk Mansion team puts plenty of detail into each wedding to make the day more memorable for couples. Caitlin M. shared her experience working with Caylea and her team in a testimonial on The Knot:
“Our planner Caylea made everything so easy for us, we didn’t have to stress about a thing. And that is coming from someone who stresses about every detail. They are so well connected with the other vendors, it makes your wedding day a breeze. Caylea made sure our day was exactly how we pictured it and we had everything we could possibly need … From the black and white room to each chandelier, Separk Mansion does not disappoint.”
When COVID-19 numbers started trending down, engaged couples flocked to Separk Mansion to celebrate their nuptials. The team makes sure to ask couples what their comfortable with, and they follow state and county ordinances when applicable. Fortunately, the indoor venue has the flexibility to create more airflow simply by opening the french doors.
One trend the team has seen this year is larger weddings with more than 200 guests. Caylea recommends couples with such an extensive guest list have a private dinner before the reception, so they enjoy some time alone.
“Then, you can have that time with your new spouse before being bombarded by people. It’s supposed to be an intimate day, but it’s turned into jumping through hoops and getting through the list of things,” Caylea said.
Other couples are exploring microweddings with 25 or fewer guests. “It’s less stressful with just close friends and family,” Caylea told us.
Couples interested in exploring Separk Mansion can attend one of its two tastings each year. The events allow guests to taste food and meet caterers, vendors, and DJs before they start planning their weddings.
Once couples decide on Separk Mansion, they choose when to hold their ceremony. And whether they want an all-inclusive package or the à la carte option.
“It’s about evaluating your time and what’s important to you. Our expertise is driven toward making sure couples have no regrets about how they spent their day,” Caylea said.
Caylea and her team want to incentivize off-season weddings by offering discounts on dates in July and August. Only Fridays and Sundays are left in the 2022 calendar, but booking now will lock in a good price. These months and days are less expensive and easier to book than more popular dates.
“Friday weddings are some of my favorite weddings because it’s less stressful. If the wedding day is on Friday, you bring everything Thursday night for the rehearsal, so you don’t have to worry about it that morning. I don’t think anybody is upset about taking Friday off. It’s just a long weekend,” she said.
Sunday weddings are also becoming more popular because they’re usually held earlier in the day and provide brunch for guests.
Separk Mansion’s wedding planning team is committed to couples and their guests. Caylea even describes her team’s dynamic as service-oriented and friendly.
“We’re a little family, and we’ll take care of you like family. We want to be your friend. We’ve done a good job at creating a space that feels like a home — the fancy version of your home for your wedding day,” she said. “As long as you know what you want, we’ll help you get there.”